Responders analyzing new strategies to move vessel grounded in Hilo Bay

Motor-sailing vessel Midway Island grounded off Hilo, Hawaii, February 5, 2020. Drone assessments produced good footage of the environment and stability conditions of the vessel. (U.S. Coast Guard courtesy photo)

Motor-sailing vessel Midway Island grounded off Hilo, Hawaii, February 5, 2020. (U.S. Coast Guard courtesy photo)

HONOLULU — Responders are analyzing new strategies to move the 63-foot fishing vessel Midway Island, currently aground off Hilo, after inspectors discovered flooding within the boat, Monday.

The U.S.-flagged vessel grounded Feb. 3, and the Coast Guard is continuing to work with the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources and other partners to safely move the boat and mitigate the remaining pollution aboard. Environmental impact has been minimal, and there is no evidence of pollution discharge as a result of the water intrusion.

“While preparing the vessel for movement, our contractors identified water ingress into both the fish hold and engine room,” said Chief Warrant Officer Russell Strathern, a pollution response expert and Federal On-Scene Coordinator Representative from Coast Guard Sector Honolulu. “Because this loss of hull integrity and positive buoyancy would have resulted in the sinking of the vessel when moved, they immediately stopped preparing the vessel for tow. We are currently assessing options and developing plans to move the vessel to a safe location for further mitigation.”

The Coast Guard will continue to monitor the vessel for discharges until an approved plan to move the vessel and mitigate the remaining pollution onboard is enacted.

Some of the required equipment has long lead times and requires specific technical oversight.

A safety zone in the area remains in effect. The vessel is aground on the rocks northwest of Hilo Harbor, and the safety zone extends 100-yards in all directions from its position. The Coast Guard is asking the public to remain clear of the safety zone to prevent injury or impact to operations.

Reportedly, 1,352 gallons of petroleum products, including marine diesel, lube, and hydraulic oil, and oily waste, have been safely removed along with the batteries and household cleaners Thursday and Friday. Responders estimate less than forty gallons remain aboard.

The Midway Island was transiting from Los Angeles to Hawaii at the time of the grounding. The cause is under investigation.

The weather on scene is now winds of 23 mph and seas up to 10 feet.

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